What is mana whenua?
This is part of a series on learner success and learner centredness.
In a literal sense, mana whenua refers to the mana or power and authority that comes from the land. But it can also refer to beliefs, building relationships and developing a sense of belonging.
Traditionally, Mana whenua refers to Māori territorial rights and the power associated with possession and occupation of tribal land.
Tribal history and legends are based in the lands that iwi (the people) have occupied over generations.
Historically, these lands have provided sustenance for the people, hospitality for guests and the ability to trade and barter.
How does mana whenua help create a learner-centred teaching environment?
In education, mana whenua has come to represent the concept of belonging. A learner-centred teaching environment is one where people feel that they belong.
Learners should feel a sense of belonging. They should feel that they literally and metaphorically have “a place to stand”.
Your teaching and learning environment may or may not be a classroom, but it should be secure and safe, a place where each person is respected and accepted for who they are.
This means that relationships (whanaungatanga), connections (whakapapa), and respect for rules, the rights of others and the proper ways of doing things (tikanga) are important.
How can you create learner success through mana whenua?
Here are five questions for you to reflect on:
- What do you already do to help foster a sense of belonging in your classroom or training environment?
- Do you take time to establish the connections that people may already have, both with each other and the content?
- How do you build relationships with your learners?
- How do you enable them to build relationships with each other?
- Do you set clear expectations for rules, rights and the proper way to do things at the beginning of a new class or training?
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